Time to Validate the News

 

I expect a lot of media folks will howl when I say this but I feel it must be said:

It’s time for those who report the news to be certified like members of other professions.

If human resources officers, accountants, chiropractors and so on  have agencies that certify them, why shouldn’t members of the news media?

Don’t tell me it would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights. Any American would still enjoy free speech. But the public would have a way of deciding whom to trust and what news is probably not “fake.”

Of course, you’re asking who will bell the cat? Who would get to say which reporters are trustworthy?

That’s a tough question, of course. But they do it in other countries. At least 30 countries  – and several Canadian provinces – have press councils that help to keep the news industry from being hijacked.

This kind of organization deals with complaints of ethical violations in handling the news. (Imagine how such a body would respond to the recent reveltions about Sean Hannity for example.)

I would suggest going even further by awarding tested journalists a professional designation – like certifying a professional accountant or optician. And any reporter who abuses that certification should lose it.

When you receive information from a professionally certified reporter or news anchor, you would know it’s likely to be fact – not fake.

Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change?

More on press councils

More on Hannity

 

Why are We Bombing Syria?

 

You might be able to help me understand what’s going on in Syria. I just don’t get it. The Syrians are being gassed by their own government, shelled by insurgents and bombed by the US, France and Italy. Why>

From what I am able to gather down here on Post Lane, a motley crew of foreign forces have swarmed into Syria from places like Iran, Russia, Iraq, Turkey and the US in a complicated shoot-’em- up that may or may not result in some kind of regime change.

A major player is ISIS, which is fighting the Syrian government, Russia, Iran and the other rebels.

So somebody – probably the Syrian government – attacked civilians with poison gas because the civilians happen to live in an area occupied by one of the rebel factions.

To “punish” the attacker, the US, France and Britain have bombed several places in Syria, probably killing a bunch of other civilians.

The bombing doesn’t seem to be part of a strategy to depose Assad – just an isolated act of random violence.

What has it accomplished? What was it expected to accomplish?

How does that change anything?

How does this “punish” Assad? If Assad needs punishing why not bomb hm?

I am bewildered. Can you set me straight?

More on the bombing

.Here’s one view

 

A Critical Time

 

My brother Bill and his wife Faye are visiting, and I’m busy playing golf with Bill and so on, so I’m giving my blog readers a rest but I had to take time to comment on the latest development in America’s presidential soap opera.

Of course I mean the FBI raid on lawyer Michael Cohen’s home and office.

This is no ordinary thing. To get permission for raiding a lawyer’s office, the FBI has to produce some really damning evidence up front. So you can imagine what dirt they hd to dig up to get the go-ahead when it’s the president’s lawyer (pictured).

It looks as if Trump is a cornered rat. Who know what he might do to create a diversion?

We could be plunged into war at any moment – perhaps a nuclear war.

Syria, for example, is a tempting target. Assad has committed one of the worst outrages of his nasty life, spewing poison gas on the civilian population of his country.

And Trump is reportedly raging mad at the FBI, at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, investigator Robert Mueller  and everybody else concerned in the Cohen raid.

He could fire the lot. That’s the kind of guy he is.

And what then?

Will Congress respond? And will the response provoke an uprising?

Trump has a solid base including racists, anti-abortionists and low-information knuckle draggers. They could take to the streets.

And who knows what other connections may lurk in the shadows? I heard a news anchor on TV last night refer to Cohen as Trump’s “consigliere.” If you have seen The Godfather, you know what kind of person has a “consigliere.”

These are dangerous times. Pray hard. Pray for America. Pray for the world. Pray for civilization.

As for me, I’m off to the golf course. Fore!

More on the raid

 

From Bad to Worse

 

Trump has made some weird nppointments since becoming president last year, but  he has outdone himself by selecting Johns Bolton (photo) as his new national security adviser.

Even Trump should have known better.

As Jimmy Carter observed on TV Monday night, Bolton is Trump’s worst mistake yet.

Bolton is such an extremist that in 2005, the Senate rejected his appointment as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations.

And you will recall the Republicans controlled the Senate at the time.

A senate committee concluded that Bolton is an ideologue and a bully who persecuted underlings and repeatedly sought retribution against career intelligence analysts wno dared to contradict him.

And that’s not the worst they could have said about him.

In my view, he is a nut. A very, very dangerous nut.

Among his wild fantasies was the belief that Cuba was building a biological weapon for use against the US. And he has repeatedly  derided the United Nations.

In my view, he is the kind of crazy militant who ,might plunge the world into a nuclear war.

To have this loon as an adviser of any kind is irresponsible and dangerous. To have him giving advice on national security is criminally negligent.

 

May the Force be with Them

 

I was surprised and impressed by the three young ladies on Rachel’s show last night. They made me revise my view of American education and they revived my hope for America’s future.

Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin and Sarah Chadwick, survivors of the recent horror at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Southern Florida, discussed their crusade against gun violence. They were poised, articulate and mature beyond their years.

I imagine they must have had – and still have – really good teachers.

The errors in grammar and lapses in logic that I encounter daily on TV, in newspapers and on the internet had brought me to the edge of despair. But these kids changed my mind.

I don’t know whether they are representative of their generation but these young women are impressive individuals.

I look forward to Saturday’s “March for Our Lives.” If these kids are any indication, America is going to get a wake-up call. Half a million protesters are expected in Washington, and sympathy marches are scheduled not only across the US but also around the world.

And that won’t be the end of it. The Parkdale students assured Rachel they would keep going until they get the regulations they want. They already have forced Florida to enact reforms, and other measures are being considered in Congress (as well as other states).

That’s more than anyone else has accomplished so far.

As you might expect, the NRA is waging a vicious campaign against the crusaders, including personal attacks and threats, but the students who appeared on Rachel’s show just laughed that off.

It’s high time the rest of the nation took the same approach to the gun nuts responsible for the slaughter of our children. May the Force be with the protesters.

The event organizer’s website.

Watch the show

More on the protests

 

The Dragon on the Prowl

 

Napoleon Bonaparte warned more than two centuries ago:

Let China sleep, for when the dragon awakes, she will shake the world

But the world didn’t listen.  Driven by greed, Western powers found China’s allure irresistible. Over the years, western intrusions helped spawn Communism, which has morphed into a ruthlessly effective hybrid political system, accompanied by robust economic growth.

Now, the dragon is fully awake. Look out world!

President Xi Jinping is  breathing fire. He recently warned that  China is ready to go to war to claim its “rightful place” among global powers.

Xi is now president for life in China. And  he is no friend of the USA.

Trump is palling around with Taiwan and bad-mouthing China, which Xi obviously finds irritating. The US president’s announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports didn’t win him any good will in China, either.

Then there’s the dispute over territory in the South China Sea.

But I don’t think America faces an imminent military threat from China.

In addition to being one of America’s top trading partners, China is a major US creditor, and has acquired significant assets in this country. Blowing up American real estate would be clumsy. I bet Chinese aggression will be far more subtle.

I suspect Alibaba’s recent alliance with ALEC is a signal of Xi’s preferred strategy.

Alibaba, which is owned by the Chinese government, is ostensibly an e-commerce giant, but doubles as a massive espionage operation. ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council)  is a think tank that writes model legislation for local, state and federal governments. Examples of their work include “stand-your-ground” gun laws and legislation allowing private prisons.

I’m  sure I don’t have to tell you how I suspect this alliance will empower China.

It is obviously part of a far reaching plan to influence American policy. You might recall that China’s multibillion-dollar chemical company, Wanhua, has joined the American Chemistry Council, a lobbying organization for chemical manufacturers.

According to an article on The Intercept website:

The ACC spent over $40 million … on contributions to super PACs, lobbying, and direct expenditures. (Additional money flowed directly to candidates via the ACC’s political action committee.)

Don’t you worry that with the Russians pulling the strings through hacking and sponsorship of political candidates and China shaping policy through ALEC, the ACC and who knows what else, our national security may be at risk?

And I bet Russia and China are not the only foreign powers manipulating American policy through contributions to political causes and candidates.

Don’t you wonder how much longer Americans will enjoy government of the people for the people and  by the people?

China’s sabre rattling

Infiltrating the US government

The long-term threat

 

The Company Trump Keeps

 

My mother told me a man is known by the company he keeps. And Trump attracts the sorriest human beings on the planet.

Anthony Scaramucci, that comical caricature of a “made man,” immediately comes to mind. But he is not the worst liar or the biggest crook.

Who is the worst liar (after Trump himself of course)?

Hard to pick one. John Kelly, the former general, is right up there when it comes to being liar in chief.  He lied about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and didn’t even apologize when a video surfaced exposing the lie. He lied about Rob Porter. He lied about Rex Tillerson’s firing. He lies… and lies… and lies…

Sanctimonious Mike Pence, who claims he talks with Jesus, is also a big-league liar.

And how about Jeff Sessions?  I’m sure I don’t have to describe his multiple mendacities.

Of course Sarah Huckabee is no slouch when it comes to messing with the truth.

You can fill out the list of Trump’s top liars for yourself. I don’t have the space to do it in a blog.

And the worst crooks?

Well Trump himself is hard to beat. A former casino owner who paid a multimillion-dollar fine for money laundering, he continues to use his position as president to enrich himself and his family.

And his kin – Jared, Ivanka, Donald Jr. and the like – are obviously fast learners.

Then there’s the cabinet. What a joke that turned out to be. A sick joke.

Trump’s present and former confederates are not just liars and crooks. Some are racists. Some are subversives. Some are just trolls. Steve Bannon – remember him? Richard Spencer. Alex Jones… the beat goes on.

Lurking in the shadows, I’m sure you can make out the shapes of various Russian mobsters and oligarchs, and such creeps as Roger Stone, George Nader, Paul Manafort…

What a cast of characters!

I can’t wait to see the movie that’s sure to get made. Will it be a comedy or a tragedy? That depends on how November’s midterms turn out.

More on Trump’s kin

More on the creepy cabinet

Trump the money launderer

Is Trump another Fredo Corleone?

 

United We Stand? Sadly, No.

 

This is no longer the United States of America. Any claim to unity among the 50 US states is laughable.

Election results and polls repeatedly show that some states belong in modern America and other states belong somewhere else.

The Trump Administration’s all-out war on California shows how hopelessly divided we are.

It’s time to face reality.

Americans who preach white superiority, revere guns, reject  responsibility for the welfare of others and seek guidance from such Old Testament books as Leviticus should live as far away as possible from the rest of us.

And they should have their own government – with Trump in charge.

Let Mexicans and other Hispanics Afro-Americans, Asians – and anyone with nonconforming pigmentation – find a home among the white Americans who reject racial stereotyping and believe in the brotherhood of mankind.

Also welcome in that America would be those who happen to be born with sexual orientation that might be regarded as “abnormal.”

In that America, women would have equal status with men and take home the same paychecks for the same jobs. They would be responsible for their own bodies, protected from sexual harassment and exploitation, and treated like people, not sex objects. They could even get elected as president.

Military-grade weapons would be kept out of the hands of mass murderers. And all firearms owners would be required to take a course in gun safety.

Marijuana and other relatively innocuous recreational drugs would be legal and regulated. The environment would be treated as a precious gift from God, while allowing for responsible access to natural resources. Food and water would be shielded from pollutants and poison.

Corporations would be taxed fairly and regulated in the society’s best interests while ensuring their right to make a profit.

The strong would help the weak, the young would care for the old, and no child would go hungry. Education would be highly regarded, science and the arts would be respected, religion would be protected and health care would be free.

Love, tolerance and forgiveness would be taught in the schools. Cooperation would replace competition as the society’s underlying philosophy. Public acclaim would go to those who contribute most to society instead of those who loot and plunder.

The animals that share our planet would be treated humanely. And “peace on earth” would be the governing foreign-relations policy.

As for the Americans who want their society to be lily-white, who want to be armed to the teeth, who want to be free of all ethical and humane restraints, they could have their own states. How about Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, the Dakotas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming?

They could call their country something like the Red States of America (or more accurately the White States of America).

Those 16 states should be able to house the millions of separatist migrants from “blue” states – and from others that are not beyond hope but are now predominantly “red.” Red-state residents who want a more enlightened environment could migrate to a “blue” state.

And then, perhaps, we would all live happily ever after.

More on America divided

 

How Much is Enough?

As Trump (aka  David Dennison) commits one outrage after another, I wonder when his minions in Congress will finally decide they’ve had enough.

The more I learn about this president the more inclined I am to suspect he is a pawn of the Russian mob.

His links to American organized crime are well documented, and his frequent interactions with money laundering Russian “oligarchs” are no secret.

His squalid personal life is the stuff that used to be called “pulp fiction.” Imagine America now has a president with an alias – a president who is suing a porn star to hide the details of their “relationship”!

Considering how brazen Trump has been about his many tawdry “relationships” with other women, I wonder why he is so determined to keep this one under wraps. Could it have anything to do with that “paternity clause” in Stormy Daniels’ non-disclosure  agreement? It would be politically damning for this aggressively “pro-life” president to have been involved in an abortion, wouldn’t it?

But that’s not the scary part.

When a four star general is moved to denounce the president as a dire threat to America’s national security, the people’s representatives in Congress must pay attention. And that’s just what happened last week. Here’s what retired general Barry McCaffrey tweeted on Friday:

Reluctantly I have concluded that President Trump is a serious threat to US national security. He is refusing to protect vital US interests from active Russian attacks. It is apparent that he is for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr Putin.

At the same time, the government was warning that Russian agents had hacked into America’s power grid and could probably shut it down whenever they wish.

And across the Atlantic more details emerged of Putin-ordered assassinations on British soil.

As Trump scrambles wildly to discredit witnesses in the Mueller probe – firing deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, for example – you have to ask yourself why he is so terrified of whatever the special counsel is likely to uncover.

Republican politicians facing the voters in November must be asking themselves that question, too.

And they must be wondering whether it’s time to jettison the Jonah in the White House.

(Photo shows the president and the porn star in happier times.)

More on Stormy Daniels

More on McCaffrey

More on Russian assassinations

More on Russian hacking

More on the McCabe firing

 

Power to the Kids!

 

When I saw those TV scenes of schoolchildren protesting against gun violence in America and listened to their leaders being interviewed, I dared to hope that democracy might survive after all.

Even if you do not believe, as I do, that the sale of military grade weapons should  be regulated much more strictly, you must have felt encouraged by these kids.

They were informed, organized and articulate. And they were passionate.

I would not say the same about the generation of Americans that precedes them.

A pervasive and debilitating lethargy seems to have infected America’s 20-somethings. Many are too listless to even vote. Don’t they care? Or have they lost faith in the democratic process? I suspect both might be true.

And I have to admit it’s easy to become cynical when you consider the corruption and hypocrisy in politics. It’s easy to shrug your shoulders and dismiss democracy as a sham. “We the people” can seem so ill informed, so self serving so unworthy of governing ourselves that abrogation of our right to self rule might seem tempting.

But – to me anyway – the student protests signal a revival of faith in the system and a commitment to participate in it.

These kids are going to vote. They are going to run for office. They are going to get involved in issues.

And that could save American democracy.

You will probably laugh at me, call me naïve, dismiss me as delusional, but let’s hear it one more time:

Power to the people!

More on the protests

The walkout in pictures